Mud, sweat and tears

Edmonton Sun - - OUTDOORS - with Neil Waugh

The catchy phrase “blood, sweat and tears” was not the fer­tile in­ven­tion of 60s-era Toronto rocker David Clay­ton Thomas and the band he fronted by the same name.

Nope, the great wartime Bri­tish prime min­is­ter Win­ston Churchill gets the credit. Al­though they say Win­nie may have lifted it too.

When Churchill took over as prime min­is­ter in the late spring of 1940 Bri­tons’ backs were to the wall.

Hitler’s Stukas and Panz­ers were chew­ing up the tiny but tough Bri­tish ex­pe­di­tionary force in Bel­gium and France in a new run-and-gun form of war­fare called “blitzkrieg.”

And he had been brought back into the gov­ern­ment to rally the “united and in­flex­i­ble re­solve of the na­tion.”

On May 13, 1940, he stood in the House of Com­mons to de­liver his fa­mous speech which he called “an ac­count of the ex­treme ur­gency and rigour of events.”

Then get the mem­bers’ vote of con­fi­dence.

“I would say to the House,” Churchill thun­dered, “I have noth­ing to of­fer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.”

As for his gov­ern­ment’s pol­icy:

“It is to wage war by sea, land and air with all our might,” he con­tin­ued, “against a mon­strous tyranny.”

“Never sur­passed in the dark, lam­en­ta­ble cat­a­logue of hu­man crime.”

While the aim of this pol­icy was one word - “Vic­tory.”

“How­ever long and hard the road may be,” Churchill con­cluded. “For with­out vic­tory there is no sur­vival.”

Clearly the Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat Speech was to be­come Win­ston Churchill’s finest hour.

Geeze, if only Justin Trudeau or An­drew Scheer could come any­where close to that.

I’ve been hold­ing off go­ing out to the Cook­ing Lake Black­foot Pro­vin­cial Re­cre­ation Area al­though ruffed grouse hunt­ing has been un­der­way since Sept. 8 and I went to the sem­i­nar at Miquelon Lake to re­new my firearms dis­charge per­mit in Au­gust.

Get­ting on the Black­foot comes with its share of bu­reau­cratic has­sles.

But once you’ve got the pa­per­work ironed out it does give you ac­cess to 97 sq.-km. of prime pub­lic hunt­ing land within an hour’s drive of town.

And be­cause it is the south­ern ex­ten­sion of the Beaver Hills it con­sti­tutes a thrust of north­ern bo­real for­est into the prairie park­land.

North­ern bo­real more than any­thing means ruffed grouse.

Now that the leaves are com­ing down, past hunt­ing sea­sons have shown that the ruffies come out of their deep woods hide­aways to the trail, oil road and pas­ture edges to cram their crops with red clover leaves.

The Labs Penny and Stella and I headed up a trail in the cen­tral stag­ing area which I have been hunt­ing at many times be­fore.

Al­berta En­vi­ron­ment and Parks had al­ready posted a warn­ing that the Black­foot trails “are wet in most ar­eas with muddy ar­eas or wa­ter in some.”

It has been a rainy sum­mer for sure. But I never ex­pected it to be like this.

One bog hole af­ter an­other churned into an al­most im­pass­able swamp by the trail-rid­ers’ horses.

My pleas­ant walk in the golden fall woods in­stantly tran­si­tioned into a Mud, Sweat and Tears march.

This is sup­posed to be a multi-user-group recre­ational area, but the gov­ern­ment has al­lowed one out­fit to dom­i­nate and de­stroy the land­scape to the detri­ment of all oth­ers. Why?

Our mud bog con­tin­ued un­til the horse trail branched off to the west and the path in­stantly tran­si­tioned to a lush car­pet of rank clover. That’s more like it.

Stella cut the first scent and I shot the ruffie when it flushed.

There was a bat­tle of the dogs over who would make the re­trieve. Stella won.

Birds Two and Three broke from a high-bush cran­berry patch. Heard but never seen.

The fourth flush was a trail bird on the re­turn leg which I saluted with two strings of 7 ½ shot.

Then it was back to the “mon­strous tyranny” of mud.

While the Black­foot coy­ote choir sang and colos­sal flocks of sand­hill cranes wheeled and croaked over­head look­ing for a safe spot to rest.

NEIL Waugh photos/ed­mon­ton sun

Neil and Stella with a Black­foot ruffed grouse.

Quiet bo­real beaver pond.

Trail in the Cook­ing Lake Black­foot Pro­vin­cial Re­cre­ation Area se­verely dam­aged by un­reg­u­lated horse rid­ers.

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